Current projects

'Optimal State' Working-Memory Training

Cognitive trainings most commonly start with their actual content witout paying attention to the state of the participant (in terms of stress, awareness, arousal, or attention focus). However, it can be assumed that getting participants in a somehow 'optimal state' prior to a cognitive trainng will increase training-related benefits. Therefore, the present study investigates the effects of mindfulness meditation, a neurofeedback training, and a sham neurofeedback training, applied prior to a visuo-spatial working-memory training.

What does Germany play?

The present online survey aims to provide a better understanding of the video gaming behavior of German gamers. We address questions regarding the games that are most frequently played, the time people play, the existence of gender differences, the skills needed etc. The data should serve as reference values for future studies in the field of video gaming.

Microsaccades in switching between selective and divided attention – An eye-tracking study

Task switching paradigms are frequently used to identify costs of switching between modalities, spatiality, attributes, rules, etc., but switching between tasks of selective and divided attention has been somehow neglected. The present study uses the Switching Attentional Demands paradigm in combination with an eye tracker to investigate microsaccades in switching between selective and divided attention. Furthermore, we are interested in physiological effects of varying the frequency of target and non-target stimuli.

Working memory and mobile phone use – Comparing data from a laboratory study and an ambulatory assessment

The American Psychological Association have long been demanding that laboratory experiments should be supplemented with data from everyday life, to gain externally and ecologically valid results. The present study investigates the effects of mobile phone usage behavior on working memory capacity within both a laboratory study and an ambulatory assessment. Working memory will be tested by applying a computer based version of the corsi block tapping task for tablets and smartphones. 

Children inhibition and attention study – On the effects of media usage behavior

In a sample of German and Australian children, aged 5 to 14 years, we investigate the effects of the usage behavior of electronic media (e.g., video games, tablets, smartphones etc.) on attention (e.g., selective attention, divided attention, switching attention) and inhibition. Furthermore, we are interested in age-related differences as well as the effects of the environment in which the children grow up as well as leisure activities and personality traits on electronic media usage behavior and cognitive functions (attention and inhibition).

The study is conducted in cooperation with the elementary school ‘Lauenburger Allee’, Duisburg (Germany), as well as the University of Adelaide (Australia).

The root of carry-over-effects. Behavioral adaptations to semi-automated driving with regard to lateral and longitudinal vehicle control

Together with scientists from the Department of Mechatronics of the University Duisburg-Essen, the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, and the Hochschule Fresenius University of Applied Sciences, we investigate the behavioral adaptation of lane-keeping behavior. Furthermore, we test the assumption that these adaptation is due to the specific hands-on lane keeping system and can be explained by ideomotor theory. Therefore, platoon driving with three different steering modes is implemented in a driving simulator study.

First, a hands-on system with passive movement of the steering wheel (“hands-on”) is tested. As shown in an on-road study we expect an interference of steering behavior and therefore impaired lane keeping after using the system. Second, we will test a decoupled lane-keeping system that does not require the hands on the steering wheel, but participants still have to monitor the traffic and therefore get visual feedback (“hands-off monitoring”). Due to ideomotor theory action-effect representations are built if the efferent signals to the muscles are matched with its effects. With a hands-off lane-keeping system no action-effect representations should be built and no subsequent interference should occur. Third, we will test a hands-off system where participants do not need to touch the steering wheel and conduct a visual non-driving related task. From an ideomotor perspective this condition is comparable to hands-off monitoring, because no motor actions are conducted during platoon driving.

ALFASY (age-based driver assistance systems) – a project sponsored by the province NRW and the European Union

The project aims to develop and empirically verify age-related acoustic driver assistance systems, which fits to the needs of the steadily growing group of the elderly. An important goal of the research is to provide technology that proves to be useful and profitable for the car industry. The driver assistance system needs to comply with current requirements regarding technology, safety, comfort and design. It is one step further in the direction of reaching the goal of autonomous driving.

The project is executed by the Department of General Psychology, the Department of Mechatronics, and the Department of General Business Administration the University of Duisburg-Essen, Ford, HEAD acoustics, and Allround Team. The project participates in the competition of the agency „LeitmarktAgentur.NRW“.


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Bringing Electrophysiological diagnostic into real world

One keen challenge in cognitive neuroscience is that research typically takes place in a laboratory and involves relatively artificial computer based tasks. Within this study we aim to take a first step toward studying processes in the brain in a more natural setting. We use EEG to record brain activity during a relatively simple task (auditory oddball task) in three different settings: a typical laboratory setting, while walking around an oval, and while navigating around their campus.


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